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Carol Schwartz speaks: Vote for Phil Mendelson

Carol Schwartz, the former four-term D.C. Council member and grand dame of local Republican politics, has emerged from her undisclosed location -- OK, Rehoboth Beach -- to weigh in on the approaching primary election.

Her mission: To save incumbent council member Phil Mendelson from possibly losing to Michael D. Brown, the first-term shadow senator who was leading Mendelson in a recent Washington Post poll -- due, most assume, to name confusion with current at-large council member Michael A. Brown.

"A political scam is taking place in our city," she writes in a statement. Michael D. Brown, she says, "is purposely deceiving voters by not showing who he really is." While saying that Brown is "entitled to run," Schwartz says his decisions not to campaign until the last minute and not to put his middle initial on the ballot -- as he did in 2006 -- leaves himself open to charges of deceit.

Mendelson, she writes, "is honest, smart, honorable, courageous, hardworking, and ethical."

"People say to me practically every day in the last 20 months that they miss me on the Council," says Schwartz, who lost the 2008 Republican primary before pursuing an ill-fated write-in bid and has since kept a low public profile. "I'm speaking up today because I do not want in the near future to miss having Phil Mendelson on the Council."

Full statement after jump.

September 9, 2010


Wake up, Washington! A political scam is taking place in our city. A recent Washington Post poll shows a little-known "shadow" candidate leading a known and trusted at-large DC Councilmember, Phil Mendelson, by 17 percentage points citywide and among African-American voters by 35 points. This is the same Phil Mendelson who got more votes in the 2006 primary election for the Council than Adrian Fenty got for Mayor, and Phil continues to serve us well.

Why is this new Council candidate, who up until very recently had not raised or spent a dime, leading this respected incumbent? Because he happens to share the same name -- Michael Brown -- although not the same middle initial or race with a sitting and known African-American at-large Councilmember who, by the way, is supporting Phil Mendelson for this at-large seat.

The poll leader seems like a nice guy (at least I thought so before now) and after all, it's his name too. So why blame him for the confusion? Because it has become apparent that he is purposely deceiving voters by not showing who he really is. If he is well meaning, he should have run a real campaign from the beginning and he should have put his middle initial on the ballot as he did in his 2006 election for Shadow Senator. He also should have put up posters, sent out mailings, and/or called press conferences to inform voters and clear up this confusion, and then run on his own merits.

But he didn't. He could still do that and I hope that he will, but now the time is growing short. Of course, he is entitled to run, and he is entitled to run his campaign any way he pleases. He is also entitled to win. But he is not entitled to perpetuate a scam, cause such confusion and perhaps cause a true injustice to occur in our city.

Regardless, the candidate who should win is Phil Mendelson. Phil represents the characteristics we should all value in our elected officials. He is honest, smart, honorable, courageous, hardworking, and ethical.

People say to me practically every day in the last 20 months that they miss me on the Council. I'm speaking up today because I do not want in the near future to miss having Phil Mendelson on the Council, and nor should you.

So Wake Up, Washington. Don't be fooled. We are being played. So let's stop the scam before it's too late.

By Mike DeBonis  |  September 9, 2010; 10:29 PM ET
Categories:  DCision 2010 , Phil Mendelson , The District  
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Next: DeMorning DeBonis: Sept. 10, 2010


According to the link above bylined by Marimow & Cohen dated 8/31, the WaPo poll Aug. 19-26 only covered "780 District residents." They also said, "The results among all registered Democrats have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points; it is five points among likely voters."

The sample size is quite small; the samples of "registered Democrats" and "likely voters" are even smaller, and there appears to be no sample of "likely DEMOCRATIC voters," who are the only voters who will decide the at-large DEMOCRATIC Council race.

From this, scary blogposts have been generated that Mendelson is 17 points behind among all Democrats and 35 points behind among black Democrats. Less attention is paid to the fact that his deficit shrinks to only 12 points behind among ALL likely voters, which is only 2 points larger than the margin of error (margin of error is doubled for comparisons of any two results, since each result has its own 5-point error zone). Several sub-categories are mentioned, such as likely Democratic voters (no sample size), black Democrats (no sample size), white Democrats (no sample size), whites age 50 and older (no sample size), "younger whites" (no sample size), likely white Democratic voters (no sample size), and "residents" of Ward 7 & 8 (no sample size). In some or most of these sub-categories, supposedly one-third are undecided.

No margins of error are provided for any of the sub-catgories. Error margins are significantly higher for smaller samples, but WaPo fails to give the necessary analysis, unlike the stellar work done by Kyle Dropp on the subcategory results for the Mayor race.

Most importantly, perhaps, WaPo never asked any questions designed to determine whether voters even know who Michael "D" is.

Posted by: Rambler3 | September 10, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

"NEW NUMBERS -- Bernard Demczuk's George Washington University "supermarket survey" is out: Among 675 registered Dems interviewed face to face by GW students, Gray leads Fenty 50.5 to 37.5 percent. Kwame Brown leads Vincent Orange, 50 to 33 percent. And Michael D. Brown and Phil Mendelson are virtually tied, at 37 percent, with Clark Ray taking 7 percent."

That's what I'm talking about. See Mike's link:

Posted by: Rambler3 | September 10, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Twice the margin of error wants confidence at the 95% level. If you think so much of Providence that you are going to watch on Tuesday instead of helping voters at a polling station know who they are voting for, maybe it is because you are unwilling to say Phil may lose because it is not quite 95% certain that he trailed in that poll.

Hard times drive folks to play the lottery and to sit tight with a losing hand.

A simple message, not like sentences above, are what Phil needs at as many polling places as possible. If some voters prefer a white man whose birth certificate labels him with a moniker common to AAs, they get to vote on that basis, too.

If Phil prevails, nobody else is going to show up in two years named Mendelsohn in order to confuse voters and another Council seat.

Posted by: incredulous | September 10, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

@ incredulous:

At 95% certainty, Phil trailed by only two points in the WaPo poll among likely voters, not 12 points. And he was tied in the GWU poll, for which I still can't find raw data.

Speak for yourself regarding electioneering.

Posted by: Rambler3 | September 10, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

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